Job prospects for executives at multinationals in Greater China and Singapore have improved sharply in the past three months amid growing optimism that Asia's recovery from the global recession will be sustainable, a quarterly survey showed on Thursday.

Asia is the first region to emerge from the global recession, causing employers to revise their hiring expectations sharply upwards, said Mike Game, chief executive of executive recruiters Hudson Asia.

In China, hiring prospects picked up for the first time in more than a year. The proportion of employers in China, Hong Kong and Singapore who plan to cut headcounts within three months is less than half that in a similar survey taken in May. The latest survey was taken in August.

Hiring expectations have increased most in Hong Kong, where 35 percent of companies say they expect to recruit staff within three months, up from 22 percent in May. In media, public relations and advertising, 69 percent of companies said they would be hiring, compared with 28 percent in the previous survey.

In China, 39 percent of employers said they planned to add staff, up from 27 percent in the May survey, with companies in banking and finance most bullish about hiring.

Hong Kong and Singapore pulled out of recession in the second quarter while China on Thursday announced an 8.9 percent surge in third-quarter GDP, putting it easily within reach of its 8 percent growth target for this year, economists say.


Salaries are set to accelerate across Asia next year as business conditions improve: a survey by U.S. HR consultants Hewitt Consultants forecasts salaries in China will jump 6.7 percent next year after rising only 4.5 percent this year. Pay rises in Hong Kong and Singapore will be more modest at just under 3 percent.

In Singapore, 34 percent of companies in the Hudson survey said they would be hiring soon, up from 26 percent in the May survey, and only 5 percent said they would cut staff, compared with 14 percent in May. The healthcare and life sciences sector continues to offer the best hiring opportunities in Singapore with 44 percent of companies preparing to add headcount, while the consumer sector has seen a slight fall in hiring expectations since May.

Singapore employers were most willing to hire candidates who had been unemployed for more than a year, or an extended period of time, while employers in China were least willing to do so, according to Hudson, part of Chicago-based Hudson Highland Group Inc .

Previous experience and specialist skills were cited as the main reasons to hire the long-term unemployed across the region but, in China, stopping work to obtain a higher qualification was also seen as a valid reason.

The quarterly survey covered responses from nearly 2,000 managers at multinational companies across industries in the three markets.

(Editing by Chris Lewis)